Hope dispare 800

Change Their Direction – Not Their Mind0

By Tibor Shanto

No one likes objections when prospecting, rejection in any form is never fun, but when it cost you money and opportunity, it’s even worse. If you are in sales, you need to quickly figure out how to best deal with objections in a way that leads to more opportunities.  Some choose to hide from it, using things like e-mail, where the rejection is less direct, in the form of no response, to the first or 15th attempt; personally, I prefer to deal with objections to lack of engagement or silence, mostly because they need to be dealt with, the question is how.  Most people deal with the wrong element of objects, and in the wrong way to boot.

First, and the hardest, is not taking things personally.  This is hard when you are invested in your in your success, your product, and your company.  Add to that the Kool Aide you’ve been made to consume before they wound you up and sent you out to conquer, and it can be devastating when someone your convinced is the perfect profile or “persona”, dismisses you, your message, and your new improved never before seen disruptive thingamajig, without even a second of consideration.

Read on…

Hey – We’re moving

Yes, all the same great content and more!
Our new home: www.TiborShanto.com. We’ll still keep things here for a while, but this same great post is also available at

www.TiborShanto.com

Hope dispare 800
Now future past 2

Now Is The Time To Get Ahead Of Then0

By Tibor Shanto

With the end of the year in site, only six hopping Saturdays till Xmas, we sometimes face hard choices as to where to put our efforts.  Put everything we have in closing and renewing what’s here and now; or ensure that I am well set for the next quarter, or year.  Unfortunately, and often for all the wrong reasons, including guidance from a manager, the former wins out.  For professional sales people, this is business as usual, but it is that more pronounced, and much more at stake, at the end of the year.  Knowing this, we should always be looking at our time not in a linear way, now or then, but in a compartmental or sectioned way. Each section, focused on core activities, based on the here and now. This allows the calendar to be used to drive daily activities, not as cause for crisis 12 or four times a year.

You can start by looking at, and spending your time in an additional way.

Read on…

Movers   Hey – We’re moving

   Yes, all the same great content and more!
Our new home: www.TiborShanto.com. We’ll still keep things here for a       while, but this same great post is also available at

www.TiborShanto.com

whale in field 2

Be Easier To Believe0

By Tibor Shanto

No one is saying you are lying, I know you are not, but not lying and being believable are two different things.  For sellers, it is less about telling the truth, and more about believability; if the buyer doesn’t buy the information and materials to support your offering, no matter how accurate or factual, they aren’t buying.

I understand the challenge for proud marketing and sales professionals, especially those who may be breaking new ground, truly innovative, and driving measurable results for the clients.  This leads to bold statement, “Big and Audacious” claims, attention grabbing, but maybe not the attention you are looking for.  But if the buyers don’t trust the statement, not only do these statements lose impact, but they could work against you.

Read on…

MoversHey – We’re moving

Yes, all the same great content and more!
Our new home: www.TiborShanto.com. We’ll still keep things here for a while, but this same great post is also available at www.TiborShanto.com

Child in calss

You Don’t Have To Answer0

By Tibor Shanto

It seems many in sales feel the best way to show how smart they are, is to have all the answers at the ready, and feel compelled to bark an answer as soon as the prospect asks, sometimes even before.  I would suggest that even when you know the answer, no element of doubt, offering it up like a candy dispenser, will not lead to the prospect thinking you are smart by virtue of knowing answer, and certainly does not guarantee the deal.

I know some will be hard to convince, but you need to look at questions and answers as props in a play, where the plot and theme are centred around the prospect, their objectives, and things they are looking to, or more often, willing to change.  So, while being right is great for grade 8 English test, it may move the dial the wrong way in a given deal.

Just as the questions you ask are designed to create a learning experience for both buyer and seller, and allow you to take the meeting in certain directions, so do answers.

Too Soon

Prospects will in their own way prepare for meetings as well, and when they are focused on addressing something, they want to get to that point, just like sellers want to get to their point.  As experienced sellers will tell you, that facts and reality are sometimes best doled out in bits and pieces, and these are tied to the buyer’s state of readiness.  This is not so important if you are selling products to “informed” and predictable buyers looking for what they bought last time, and neither you or the buyer are inclined to change, learn or improve.

But if your success is based on helping buyers achieve a future state, one different than their current state, one that represents change, or as they think of it as “risk”, then it will likely involve educating and motivating that buyer.  There is a reason they call it a journey, it allows the buyer to evolve on the way to the destination.

Our role as sellers is to ensure the buyers gain an understanding of the specifics at hand.  Individual buyers we deal with, are part of a group of buyers, often with varying opinions and wish lists.  This means they need to both understand and explain the change you are proposing to others in the process, meaning that a “just in time” approach to answers will likely serve you better than spewing facts.

Child in calssNot Every Question Deserves An Answer

That’s right, there is no law that says that all questions have to be answered immediately, or at all.  Sometimes buyers ask questions not purely out of a need for an answer, but for example, as a way of thinking out loud.  Based experience, you know that certain question show a state of unreadiness on the part of the buyer.  Answering the question, now or too soon, may confirm some wrong assumptions, or limit your ability to explore areas later; another good reason to review all opportunities, won, lost or “no decision”.

There is also the opportunity to demonstrate your organization’s “deep bench”.  You can introduce experts and specialist to respond.  Setting that meeting will allow you to surface and involve others in the process, by setting up a meeting to introduce your expert(s) to their team.  It also allows you to ensure that they form relationships with those in a better position to ensure success after the signature.  Something that if it came to you, would cause you to not “sell”, and delays in resolving the clients issues.

Knowing the answer is one things, what makes you an expert seller, not a product or fact expert, is how you use and dispense the answers in a way that drives the buyer’s and you objectives.

Hey – We’re moving

Yes, all the same great content and more!
Our new home: www.TiborShanto.com
We’ll still keep things here for a while, but this same great post is also available at
www.TiborShanto.com/blog

Come and visit, see what’s new!

kristopher-drowning ad

When In Doubt – Err on The Side Of More!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

I find too many sales people, despite the image they may project, are way too conservative in their approach to selling.  While this may not be a pronounced issue for those tasked with managing or servicing current accounts, with the only expectation being “organic” growth.

What is organic growth any way, is that like growth we would have gotten even without any help from the account manager, or is the level of growth achieved even with the meddling of account managers?  Sounds like we are paying someone for something that would have happened, well, organically.  Sorry, back to the issue at hand.

When we focus in on those tasked with finding new clients, new revenue streams, etc., it is striking how few are willing to go the distance to succeed.  With few exceptions, in this case exceptions that validate the reality, most sales people tend to not go hard enough, far enough, and broad enough to win all the opportunities they can.

Part of these goes back to the “relationship” mindset many sellers still adhere to.  Don’t get me wrong, relationships are important.  In fact, so important, that it is naïve to believe that we can have meaningful relationships in the same short timeframes that sales cycles take to unfold.

There has been a lot written about the importance of “getting in early”, whether that is the time to follow up to a download, to reacting to a trigger like say personnel change.  Just as there is evidence to suggest that “last man/woman/child standing”, is more likely to succeed.  Clearly those who enter the fray early, has a better opportunity to set the agenda, and direction for discovery.  Just as it is easy to understand why the rep who manages to extend the engagement long after others give up, is more like to win the deal, and move the dial on the “relationship” front.  But there is a lot of opportunity between those two, often overlooked, or more accurately avoided by many.

The refrain is a familiar one, they don’t want to pester the prospect.  The assumption there is that prospect know exactly what they want, need, or imagine, and interfering could have negative impacts, “I’ll just be on ‘available’, and ready if the prospect needs anything.”  The big flaw in this is that prospects are more confused and overwhelmed than ever, leading to buying cycles that are often twice as long as anticipated, a factor often left out of ROI calculations, if you implement six months later than planned, there are real current and future costs that need to be taken into account.

Couple this with buyers’ reluctance to engage with another smiling beige vanilla seller, more focused on making a friend than a difference to their business, and you have a situation where being confident, assertive and laser focused on delivering impacts, not product, gives you the opportunity to rise above.

kristopher-drowning adI have had more than one executive tell me that they routinely ignore the first three or four approaches by sellers, knowing that most will A) give up too soon; B) wait too long between touch points to be noticed.

We have all had one, but probably both of the following experiences:

  1. You hold off, you don’t want to “pester them”, and when your manager put enough pressure on you to call, you find they made their decision a few weeks back
  2. You push beyond your social comfort zone, believing you can truly help a prospect, and you make that extra call, a call many other lesser sellers would call a Hail Mary, only to be warmly received by the buyer, soon to be client.

Look at your own world, and ask how many times you went back to something when prompted by an outside source.  I know that when i bought insurance a few years back, I went with the one reps who stayed with me, not on me, but with me, and was present when the time to buy came, all because he erred on the side of more, rather than the side of giving up to soon.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Financial analyst and stock broker business concept as a human face wearing reflective glasses with arrows going up and down as a metaphor for having the vision for forecasting and analizing economic direction.

What’s My Future In Sales?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

There is a lot of discussion around the role of technology in sales, advances in AI (you decide what the A stands for), and its impact on the role of and future of sales people.  There is no doubt that technology will continue to change the process of revenue generation, maintenance and growth, but that’s nothing new.  In any given decade as technology is introduced, the sales tribe is the first to adopt.  We are the ones who figure out how to leverage new tech to make more money, sales ops figure out how to take cost out of the cycle, driving even greater margins.

But any conversation about “sales” and technology, should really be framed not as discussion of sales, but revenue.  Revenue, across the entire “client life cycle”, in that context, sales, or specifically, the act of selling, is but one small part of the cycle.  Selling here is defined as the initial point of persuading someone who is not doing business with you, to do business with you.  A small part of the larger revenue cycle, a crucial one, one that enables the flow of revenue, but it is a small part in the context of the “client life cycle”.  That front piece is different than the rest of the rest of the cycle.

Financial analyst and stock broker business concept as a human face wearing reflective glasses with arrows going up and down as a metaphor for having the vision for forecasting and analizing economic direction.

This why once the client has been persuaded, in most instances, the client managed by a different set of people with different skills.  This is even more pronounced in today’s “disintermediated” sales environment, or as some would like to call it, “sales specialization”.  No matter the label, the reality is that the person with making the initial sale, is not the one tasked with ensuring “customer experience”, fulfilment and support, “account management”, or growth, or renewal.  Taken as a whole, it’s all sales, but we all know it is a hockey team, yes, it’s all the Habs, but no one looks for the goalie to score, or a centre to stand between the pipes.

Which brings us to tech’s impact on sales, more specifically the discussion of “salespeople” being displaced by tech.  I would argue that if we took the “client life cycle”, the continuing revenue cycle, some parts are much more vulnerable to being out done by tech and replaced by tech.  In fact, the further you are in the process, the more at risk you are to being “Amazoned”.

The critical point, is the ability to persuade someone to change what they are doing now, and buy your offering or service from you, the thing hunters do.  While tools and tech can help score leads, nurture them, even get them to the point of engagement.  This may be easy for that small part of the market that is actively looking, ready to buy, and are just looking for the right vendor.  But when it comes to that 70% plus part of the market that is in Status Quo, not interacting with the market.  It takes real skill to engage with someone who has not given any thought to engaging, changing or buying.  This is the very reason that closed opportunities are handed off to people with other skills, and out of the hands of hunters, and given to people with different skills; skills I would argue easily replace by automation, which will likely do it more efficiently.

So, if you are a hunter, with the unique EQ, IQ, and skills to lead and persuade, you need not worry about displaced.  If you are downstream from the signature, Alexa has your number.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Calendar 2016

Time To Get Around To It0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Michael Jordan was quoted that the only thing that changes is our focus on the fundamentals, a great lesson for those who tend to be distracted by shinny objects promising “easier” way of achieving or exceeding quota, or, to avoid doing things we don’t like. One of the core fundamentals for successful selling is how we view and utilize time, right down to the minute. It is always important to remember that time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Leads are recyclable, lost deals can be revisited and won. But once the next 60 seconds go by, we don’t get to replenish or redo.

This leads us to the importance of allocating time, not managing it; once time is allocated to specific activity, then focus on executing and managing the activity you actually designated the time to. But many sales people cherry pick time, and use it to avoid things that have to be done, like prospecting for example.

Regularly when I ask buyers why they didn’t prospect, or when they plan to prospect, I hear “I’ll get around to it when I have time”.  As though some rich uncle is going to pull up with some extra time in the trunk, and give it to us.  Time is something you have to commit to in advance.  If you don’t commit time in advance in your calendar for important activities, like prospecting, you will not do it.

“I’ll get around to it when I have the time.” Is the very opposite of what it should be.

I understand that there a lot of demands on a sales person’s time, the importance of focusing on current customers; I understand the importance of finishing that proposal, doing a demo, and all the things we signed up for as sales professionals.  As professionals, one of the key skills we are paid the big bucks for is prioritizing, be that targets, opportunities, accounts, but most importantly, our activities.  While maintaining current customers is important, it’s as important to remember where the current customer base came from, and having that influence how and what we prioritize.

No Distraction

It is interesting to work with new sales people, when they have no distractions, no base, no proposals, nothing to do but identify and pursue pipeline opportunities.  These newbies have nothing else to focus on but that.  Then their success begins to chip away at not only the available time for prospecting, but their willingness to prospect.

It’s the latter that surprises me. There is no taking away from the fact that prospects have to be sold, and clients have to be serviced, but at what point does a quota carrying rep decide that they “have earned the right not to prospect”. An actual quote from a 12-year veteran has made quota in about half those years, but only twice in sequential years.  When something is important, you make time for it. This is as true for business as it is personal wants.  Which may lead one to conclude that they do not want to prospect.

Calendar timeBut for those who do want, and are genuinely struggling to pack everything they need to do into a work week, the only option is to get ahead of it, and commit to it in advance by blocking it out in your calendar.  Studies have shown that we are less likely to blow-off an activity that is in our calendar, than those that not, despite best intentions.  Most reps only have client meetings and team meetings in their calendar, important, but no more important than prospecting.  Real pros I work with, set appointments in their calendars to do research, to segment their opportunities, and time to prospect.  They also build time into their calendar for legitimate distractions, this way when they do need to be sidetracked while prospecting, they have time “banked” away to make sure they can complete their task, prospecting.  If the distraction or “client emergency” does not happen, then you have time in the bank for other high-value activities, like maybe prospecting.

Those who plan their prospecting times in advance, avoid the peaks and valleys that drain so many sellers.  The emotional rollercoaster, the misspent energy, all avoided by setting an appointment with themselves to secure appointments with their next big client.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

radio1

Gaining and Maintaining Momentum0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to speak with Michele Price, but I recently found this segment we did.  I am sharing it today as we head into the last week of October, and are looking to se how we can maintain momentum to finish off the year right, and carry that momentum into next year.

Take a listen, give us you feedback, and go forth and execute.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Help 1

I Need Some Help1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Despite the state of discourse in general these days, in a one on one settings, like a sales meeting for instance, most people are helpful by nature. As a sales professional, we need to walk the line of leveraging that to help us make a sale, while not taking advantage of it.

I know some days it is hard to convince you that people are helpful, especially when someone just hung up on you, or you’ve run out of ideas how to get a response from someone who said thy were ready and would have the order ready a month ago. But, when you can put those moments aside, there are things you can do to help both the prospect and you succeed.

As with many elements of sales that are more subjective in nature, how effective we are will be influenced by personalities, and how you approach things.  People who naturally social, who draw attention the minute they walk in the room, find soliciting help much easier than another rep who may take a more cerebral style; the difference is in how they solicit help, not their ability to leverage people’s helpful nature.

A simple example is one used by many in prospecting into companies they have not dealt with before, ya, cold calling.  One lady I worked with does this extremely well, she pours her maternal self into every call, and with the warmest and “lost voice” she will call her intended target, and start with the following:

Seller: Is this Mr. Chapman?
Prospect: yes,
Seller: I am hoping you can help me.

Help 1

She then goes on to introduce what she sells, not a product riff, but as a true graduate, she speaks to objectives and outcomes she and her company have delivered to other similar buyers.  She ends her intro by asking:

“Who should I be talking to about that?”

When the person identifies themselves as the right party, she continues:

“Wow, that was fortunate, ….”  She then continues to close on the appointment.

It is important to remember that this does not guarantee an opportunity, people will still evaluate the premise of the offering, timing, and more.  But she does have more conversations, and is able to explore further than in scenarios where the call does not start with a call for help.

The main reason for this, is that by asking for help, we help the mind focus and understand that they are looking for an answer to the caller’s “dilemma”.  When they get a plain cold call, it is perceived as an interruption, and the mind listens and weighs their perception of the call vs. being interrupted. As soon as it is labeled an interruption, the mind shifts to “we gotta get rid of this disruption, and get back to my work.”  When we start by asking for help, the mind shifts to “I gotta listen and see if and how I can help.”  Again, I am not suggesting that asking for help will lead to an instant prospect, but it will lead to a more attentive one, and by extension, and better shot.

Hope that helped!

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Old TV

I Don’t See What You Mean0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Some may remember the first video/song ever played on MTV, was The Buggles

Old TVVideo Killed the Radio Star.  The message was clear, we are visual creature, and prefer a visual presentation over other means. This is why some singers who were great at singing and expressing themselves via vinyl or CD struggled to make the transition to video, while others, who were so so when it came to singing, but had a great presence and could “please” the screen.  Where once lyrics and delivery determined the success of the performer, now it was down to visuals, at the cost of all else.

Close Yet Far

It seems that telephone prospecting and selling are experiencing a similar thing but in reverse, and with added risk.

As more and more of the sale goes virtual, the less we have the opportunity to leverage one of our greatest strength as people and communicators, namely the visual. While opinions may vary slightly, most experts agree that somewhere between 75% – 90% of communication is non-verbal; and the vast majority of that is body language, intonation and vocal quality and characteristics.  All good things when it comes to face to face selling, not so good for those who now need to sell without ever seeing their counterparts.

I know that many who use systems like Zoom or join.me, will say that they have and encourage the use of videos to enhance the experience, most still seem to just see these technologies as extensions of PowerPoint, and even when the video is turned on, it is less than the face to face experience.

This is why focusing on the message and the medium, as many do, still leaves gaps in their approach.  It Is important to also ensure that we compensate for the lack of immediacy and direct visual contact; and I don’t mean just talking louder.

Stepping Back

Starting with the basics of slowing down the pace and deepening your voice, and then going beyond.  You need to also focus on your intonation, what you put an emphasis on, where you place your gaps, silence between thoughts, words, and concepts, pronunciations and more.  Words count too, but not in the way many are looking for, the perfect or secret set of words that unlock the kingdom. More in using words that fit with the buyers’ expectations, words that they would use to describe the scenario, not words your company came up with to “differentiate”. Remember if they don’t understand you, they won’t understand what you sell, or why they should buy.

There are also words that work better in direct conversation that lack impact on the phone, and the other way around.  Given the ease with which calls and web meetings can be captured these days, it is worth exploring how different ways of presenting things change the sales based on the words used, when and in combination with e=what other things.

Often what counts is what you don’t say. One way to ensure engagement in a remote scenario is to create opportunities for the prospect to ask questions. As a subject matter expert, you should be in a position to know which elements to lead with, and which to leave to the end, and which to leave to the prospect to ask. This is one way to encourage the flow missing in remote selling situations, that is quite natural when two people are sitting face to face.

By using your 360 Degree Deal View, you will be able to understand what some of the key moments in a good sales call, understand what is enhanced by the virtual setting, and what is diminished, and create a flow for each type of sales meeting.  Once you have that, then comes the hardest part for many sellers, practice.

Taking it back to radio, those actors who were successful in radio drama, think Orson Wells, knew they had to make up for the lack of visuals in order to deliver a drama that worked on radio without a single visual aid.  While video may have killed the radio star, don’t let the web meeting kill your sale.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

wordpress stat